Bridge Farm gravel application

I have received a few letters from residents setting out worries and objections to the planning application at Bridge Farm.   It is most important that all residents who object to this proposal write to the Planning Department at Wokingham Borough Council setting out their objections so their worries can be taken into account. This planning application will  be decided by the Council, who have all the necessary planning powers. Objections are  most effective when they are related to the relevant planning matters the Council has to take into account, and when they are based on  the local plan the Council has set out. You might also like to write to your local Councillors, as they may be able to  represent your view  at the Council prior to  the decision making where they are not themselves members of the planning committee taking the decision.

As MP I have no power over this matter. I do not usually write in about an individual  planning application as the Council does not welcome the MP’s intervention in  matters they control. I do usually intervene if and when a planning matter is subject to appeal to the national planning authorities. I usually intervene on  the side of the Council reinforcing their reasons for turning down the application when  they decided it and urging the Inspector to uphold the wishes of the local community as expressed in  the local plan and decisions of the Council.


  1. Marcus McDowell
    August 19, 2019

    Can you please confirm that you think it is not a good idea to build a quarry next to a school? I see lots of prevarication here. For someone who has spent his entire political career saying we need to stand up to the EU, I find your position baffling.

    I disagree that as an MP you have no power over this matter. Councillors from your own party have, rightly, been highly vocal in their opposition to this scheme, and residents in the area would feel much better knowing that their MP is strongly ippos d to such a scheme.

    You wouldn’t build a school next to a quarry, so why don’t you come out and say you shouldn’t build a quarry next to a school?

    Reply Councillors do not like an MP to tell them how to do their job of representing local opinion

    1. Marcus McDowell
      August 19, 2019

      It is not about telling councillors how to do their job. It is about you publicly objecting to the idea of building a quarry next to a school and next to a densely populated residential area.

      Why do you find it so hard to say that you think it is not a good idea to build a quarry next to a school?

      Why can you not add an objection to the planning application? It is important to us as a group of residents opposing this awful plan that you show your public support. Liz Truss has done so as had Mark Prisk for similar applications. You are failing your constituents by your refusal to support them when they need you.

      Reply I have set out clearly the best way for my constituents to put the case against the planning application to maximise their chances of success. That is supporting my constituents whilst recognising the reality that the Council, not me, makes this decision.

      1. Marcus McDowell
        August 20, 2019

        Your constituents need your help in opposing this application. Why do Liz Truss and Mark Prisk feel able to publicly support their constituents when trying to prevent a quarry being built next to their children’s school when you do not? Further to this, many councillors, including conservative councillors, have lodged their objections to the proposal, publicly stated their opposition, and attended public meetings held concerned residents. Do other councillors object to being told how to do their job by this? I see no evidence.

        In the case of Bengeo quarry, Mark Prisk assisted constituents by writing to various agencies to ask them why they were taking so long to respond to the planning application. In the case of the quarry in your constituency, we have been told that the Enviroment Agency is being slow to respond. Why can you not show support for your constituents in the same way that Mark Prisk has?

        Publicly opposing this application would not interfere with the councillor’s work, would not compromise the planning application, and would greatly help the thousands of concerned residents in the area. What we want to hear is our local MP saying that he is against this planning application. You wouldn’t build a school next to a quarry, so why build a quarry next to a school?

        Reply Thank you for the suggestion that the Environment Agency may need a prod to speed up its response. I agree this needs to be settled quickly, and will ask Wokingham Borough if they need my help in securing the necessary responses from the Environment Agency.

  2. Melanie Ernest
    August 19, 2019

    Whilst I generally applaud your intention to give the council autonomy, there is too much at stake here not to show a united front across the constituency. The application has the stated intention of a gravel quarry and cement works alongside a junior school, near an infant school & a care home and in the middle of a residential area. The resulting pollution from both the works themselves and additional vehicles are known to be hazardous to health. The application should never have got this far, but the fact remains that it has. We have seen many instances of very poor planning policy in Wokingham Borough with a lack of joined up thinking in recent years, evidenced by the over-loading of local communities with new build houses that they are struggling to fill and roads that are heavily congested. Given the track record I have very little faith in the council’s planning processes. I am sure I am not alone in this. I have objected to the current proposal. I have no doubt my objections, along with countless others will be ignored or dismissed. You are our elected leader. It is time that you intervened in this process and make a clear statement about whether YOU believe that a cement works located near vulnerable communities is a good idea. The material facts are easy to obtain access to, the toxicological data is easy to locate, the flood maps of the area and recent flood events are also all available to you. If you take 10 minutes out of your day you will easily lay your hand to enough credible, reliable and compelling information to demonstrate that this application should have been rejected in much earlier stages of the process. It is time for you to intervene in this matter.

    Reply Planning applications have to be properly considered by the relevant authority and are subject to legal review if not. Councillors do not appreciate an MP trying to tell them to do their job which is why my advice to the local community is to stress your objections to those who are making the decision and to relate your case to planning matters and the local plan.I am trying to help my constituents by giving you this advice, knowing how planning applications are dealt with.

    1. Melanie Ernest
      August 19, 2019

      I have already noted my evidence based objections via the planning process. I appreciate that local councillors ‘may not appreciate’ being told how to do their job properly, however distaste about intervening is not a sufficient justification for not doing so. I am interested to know your opinion on this matter. Do you or do you not think that this location is a suitable location for a quarry and cement works?

  3. Emma Dollymore
    August 20, 2019

    You say that your hands are tied by not wanting to look like you are influencing the local authority who bears the responsibility of making the decision.
    You say that you “usually” support the local authority in the event of an appeal which is the part of the process that you say you are permitted to be involved in. I’m sure your will appreciate that my understanding of the word “usually” means that it might also not happen which means I am not reassured by your inability to commit to offering an opinion on the quarry and concrete plant application.
    Furthermore, could you please explain, if your reasoning above is accepted protocol for MPs, why then did:
    * Mark Prisk MP for Hertford get involved during the application process for the quarry at Bengeo
    * Nick Herbert MP Arundel & South Downs get involved objecting to the quarry proposed at Horncroft Common
    * Gillian Keegan MP Midhurst get involved objecting to quarry proposed on the Cowdray Estate
    * Chris White MP for Warwick and Leamington get involved before the local authority had had made a decision about the quarry proposed there

    These things you suggest are either protocol or not. Either these MPs above had the desire to break protocol to support their constituents – a desire that you do not share; or they’re not actual protocols and you choose not to support your constituents anyway.

    Which is it please?

    Reply I have explained to you my practice over planning matters and why I have adopted this approach. Some other MPs have adopted a different approach, maybe because their Councils think differently to Wokingham Borough. I repeat that I usually avoid telling the Council what to do on first instance planning applications, where they and not I have the powers and responsibility, as I do not think my intervention would help.
    I say I usually support the Council where they turn an application down and it then goes on appeal, because that is what I do when my intervention might help with the national inspectorate.I can’t think of an example where I ever supported an appeal against the decision to reject the application by the Council, but I left open the remote possibility that such a case could emerge one day. IT would require, for example, the Council to turn down an application which had a lot of public support, no public opposition and good planning arguments for it proceeding.

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